Geet-Rung’s 5th annual recital– ‘Victory of Good over Evil’
(Photos: Lavanya Palaparthy)
Each year Atlanta’s Geet-Rung School of Dance and Music showcases its annual program to coincide with Mother’s Day. On May 11, 2014, the fifth annual recital took place at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center and was attended by over 500 patrons. The event was once again dedicated to the worthy cause of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The 3-hour program started with a Kathak ballet ‘Deepawali – Victory of Good over Evil’ which presented episodes from the life of Lord Ram through Kathak dances. The second segment regaled the audience with happy Bollywood songs and dances.
Divya Srivastava, director of Geet-Rung, had spent six months of preparations and rigorous rehearsals in producing this event highlighting the values of Indian epic Ramayan. Thematically, the Ramayana explores human values and the concept of dharma. Not just a story, the Ramayana presents the teachings of ancient Hindu sages (Vedas) in narrative allegory, interspersing philosophical and devotional elements. The characters Rama, Sita, Lakshman, Bharata, Hanuman, and Ravana are fundamental to the cultural consciousness of India, Nepal, and many Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Indonesia. According to Hindu tradition, the Ramayana takes place during the Treta Yuga. Ram is referred to as Maryada Purushottama, the Perfect Man or Lord of Virtue. This 55-minute splendid Kathak ballet had over 85 participants ages 5-35. Performers in colorful costumes depicted these fascinating episodes through fast-paced dances replete with Kathak artistry. Execution was flawless, with precision footwork and jingling ghunghroos, spins, and varying formations performed to live singing.
Narration by Sunny Sachdeva before each scene described the action. One of the six scenes presented the swayamwar of Sita with Ram after he successfully lifted and broke the Bow. Changing slide backdrops coordinated with the performances. Music embellished dancers’ rhythmic elements, footwork, and expressions. The ballet ended with a diya dance, marking the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya after his 14 years of exile. The stage was full of students holding diyas in their hands, culminating in the shape of one large beautiful diya twinkling in the dark. Music was composed by well known artists in India based on the script that Divya writes, detailing the nuances of each scene. The play inspired some of the classes inclined towards Bollywood dances only to learn Kathak as they wished to learn this classical dance style and be a part of such plays in future recitals at Geet-Rung.
After the Deepawali ballet, more dances followed for another hour, including “Kesariya hai roop maaro,” “Nimbooda,” “Ghaghra,” “Raghupati raghav,” “Tum tak,” “Kashmir tu,” and “Nagda sang dhol.” Pankaj charmed the audience with his heart-warming song “Geet gata hoon main, gungunata hoon main” in his Kishore Kumar style. He was joined by Vandana Upadhyaya in a classical soulful duet “Ni sa ga ma.” The last song of the segment was sung solo by Vandana again: “Wo chup rahen to” (film Jahan Ara) accompanied by Divya in a beautiful dance. As said by emcee Sunny Sachdeva, the song was more like a ghazal, full of subtleness and delicacy, and Divya embodied it beautifully by her Kathak adakari and grace.
“Mohe panghat pe” (film Mughal-e-Azam) was a special dance performed by a student group of mothers, Anar Sharma, Nidhi Tanak, Suchita Sood, Sudipta Roy, and Varsha Aryakula, and was a fitting tribute to the Mother’s Day celebration. The student groups of diverse ages captured the cheerfulness and exuberance of Indian culture through the kaleidoscope of hit Bollywood dances. They danced with heart and grace, subtle nuances reflecting the gamut of moods. The grand finale “Satrangi re” was much applauded by the audience. As in the past, in the finale, each group of students, one by one, danced in their colorful costumes until all the students and other participants filled the entire stage, and then Divya was invited on stage by emcee Aqsa Farooqui. The program was creatively put together by emcees Aqsa and Sunny.
Geet-Rung has also been associated with another nonprofit organization Ekal Vidyalaya that supports the education of underprivileged children in rural and tribal regions of India. In the past Geet-Rung has sponsored Ekal schools and this year announced to sponsor two more schools from this event. A slide presentation explaining the mission and work of Ekal was presented by Ekal representative Rachna Gupta. Divya says, “I want all my students to be aware of the importance of charity work and how each of them can use their talent to help others in need. This not only teaches them community service but gives them self confidence, motivation, and leadership skills.”
Between program items, Geet-Rung also shows glimpses of the Piano Recital and performances done outside school, so that students and parents are aware of all the activities done through the year.
Student of the Year medals were awarded to Sonum Agarwal, Avnee Naik, Shreya Raj, and Akshita Sharma for highest scores earned in the Kathak exams. Trophies were awarded to all students, participants, and volunteers. Acknowledged were Shweta Dubey, the dance teacher; Nida Shariff, the manager; Navin Tyagi for light and sound; Nida Shariff, Kritika Subramaniam, and Aisha Shariff for backstage management.
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